Case Study: How to Convert a Dream House Into an Accessible Home

About the Client:

• Diagnosed with and beat 1st round of cancer 1980/1981
• Active as team mom in baseball and hockey supporter
• Aspired for years to build a dream home for her family

The Challenge:

• Allow Julie to easily access her home without assistance
• Where to install a ramp or lift without diminishing the integrity of the home
• Family had limited means of funding such a project


• Julie and family were introduced to the Handi-Ramp Foundation for funding
• It was determined that a lift would be most effective for Julie’s independence
• Handi-Ramp installed and tested the lift for her


• Julie regained her freedom after the lift was installed
• The regained freedom allowed Julie to attend her son’s hockey games
• The lift was purchased and installed at no cost to her


Julie, an astounding and active woman located in a Chicago suburb, aspired for years to own a custom home in the world’s greatest city for her and her family catering to their active lifestyles and busy schedules.

In early 2010, Julie and her family decided to purchase a house not far from their current dwelling with plans of adding upgrades to truly make it a dream home. By the end of 2013, the family was able to move into the home full time to begin the next phase of their lives. Finally, by mid-summer of 2013, her family was able to secure the necessary permits from her township to begin the first phase of the next part of their lives.

In mid-to-late 2013 while cooking dinner for her family, Julie slipped and fell in her kitchen requiring a visit to the emergency room. While there, doctors ran a variety of standard tests to ensure no muscle or bone damage was visible. Luckily, none of the tests returned positive, however it appeared the cancer Julie had beaten in the early 1980’s had returned with a vengeance.

By the fall months of 2013, the cancer had become so intense that Julie required an above knee amputation to prevent the cancer from further spreading and required a wheelchair full time to move throughout her home. Sadly, her now recently completed dream house became a nightmare with a lack of accessible entrance and exits.


The Challenge

Julie’s family needed to find a solution that would allow her to easily enter and exit the home whenever needed, alleviating the necessity of a 2nd person to constantly be with her.

Sadly, much of the family’s savings went towards hospitals bills and other medical expenses after Julie’s second bout of cancer returned. No longer could the family afford to eat out a couple times per week, or travel to her son’s hockey games at area high schools.

With limited funds and a renovated house that was not designed to accommodate a wheelchair, Julie turned to her friends to seek help.

When word got out about her situation and migrated amongst her circle of friends, donations and referrals began pouring in. Many who knew Julie did not hesitate to donate what they could while others contacted local organizations to hold craft fairs and other fundraising events in their attempts to give back to the family.

Our Solution

While Julie’s family, friends, and local business took to fundraising, a close family friend was introduced to the idea of an online fundraiser through a reputable ramp company also in the Chicago suburbs, Handi-Ramp. The fundraiser would allow those who knew Julie to navigate to a specific website to donate what they could into an electronic “pot”, leave messages of encouragement, and keep up to date with the latest money count raised.

However, in order to first calculate what the goal to reach would be, several members of the Handi-Ramp team met with Julie and her family in early winter 2013 to discuss the possibility of installing either a wheelchair ramp or wheelchair lift allowing Julie to independently access her home. Upon careful measurements and discussing options with the family, they decided to purchase and install a wheelchair lift using the fundraised money.

The Results

From the fundraiser, Handi-Ramp was able to purchase and install a wheelchair lift adjacent to her back porch allowing Julie to enter and exit her home without assistance from others. Among the activities Julie was now able to do again was attend her son’s home hockey games at a nearby arena, screaming at the top of her lungs when her team scored goals and giving her son memories to look back upon.

Sadly, Julie passed away from complications in January of 2014. She is survived by her husband, two sons, two siblings, sister-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

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